Meet the Maine Coons

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

Call me a crazy cat lady, but I think my first few blog posts would be incomplete without a post about our cats. They are, after all, the very heart and soul of our home. And, on Instagram, people began loving my cat pictures, long before they loved my house or my garden shots. So, I am hoping that there are some fans out there.

I grew up with cats. Lots of cats (I’m slightly reluctant to admit). My mother – a true animal lover – was a magnet for every waif and stray in the neighbourhood.  They were all moggies and each had its own quirky little personality (some, unfortunately, more quirky than others). We loved them all and I still remember their names decades later: Sootica, Minilow, Lupin, Sweet Pea, Greyling, Snoopy, Waldo, Marmite…..see what I mean about lots of cats?

When I moved to London and bought my first flat, I truly missed having feline company. And it was while I was researching ‘cat breeds happy to live indoors’, that I discovered Maine Coons.  Extraordinary to think that a breed of outsize American farm cats could be happy in a tiny basement flat, but it was quite true….

Maine Coons really are something else. As well as being fantastically beautiful – those ear tufts! Those gigantic paws! Those plume-tails! – they are consummate comedians. I laugh out loud every day at my cats – from their bathroom acrobatics first thing in the morning, to their dinner table lolling in the evening. They are also very sociable; almost doglike in their friendliness. They follow me around the house in a small pack; sit down where I sit; sleep where I sleep; and, as my Instagram followers know too well, they perch on the Boot Room window sill waiting patiently for me to come home.

Now that I’m freelance, I’ve had a chance to spend whole days with them and got to know their little routines. Poff puts himself to bed straight after breakfast (how many of us wish we could do the same?) and stays there till midday when he joins me working at the kitchen table. Mousling always knows when it’s Bo’s bedtime and curls up on her bed waiting for night-time cuddles.

They are not lap cats – Maine Coons are far too full of personality to be that compliant. But they are brilliant companions.  They are truly the best furry PAs.  And the last few years, working from home, would have been far less fun without them.

 

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

Poffum is the boss and, quite simply, an all-round awesome cat.  I often say to my girls, if Poffum was a man, he’d be the perfect husband.  Loyal, well-behaved, smart, fantastically handsome, affectionate, but not clingy…

 

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

Poff, as we call him, is nearly always ‘the cat in the window’.  Being the boss, he likes to keep an eye on what the birds, cows, neighbouring cats and general wildlife are doing.

 

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

Underneath Poff’s handsome exterior, beats the heart of a badass hunter. He looks innocent enough here, but beneath his paw is, most likely, a dead mouse which he will leave, neatly arranged, on the doorstep.

 

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Nimbus is the bad boy of the family. Nim watches me arrange flowers and then destroys the arrangement, one flower at a time, and pushes the vase off the table for good measure.

 

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

Nim considers my bed his territory and spends much of the day luxuriantly stretched out on it.  I complain about his fur and dirty paws on the duvet, but the sight of him there fills me with such awe and yearning, I let him stay….

 

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Nim is also known as Elf-Cat. Partly because of his ethereal, good looks; and partly because of his penchant for climbing the Christmas tree.

 

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Mousling is the baby of the family. We usually have only two Maine Coons at a time – but, when we met her two years ago, Mousling was far too cute to resist. And, because she’s a girl, she fitted right in.

 

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She might be smaller than the boys, but Mouse is quite a feisty little creature. She has her own schedule, which is completely different from Poff and Nim’s and she’s slowly and subtly eroding Poff’s top-cat status (she regularly sleeps in his favourite spots).

 

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

When she’s not sleeping in Poff’s spots, Mousling is forever exploring new sleeping place options….Princess and the Pea piles of quilts, the linen cupboard…..

 

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

….Or the Boot Room

 

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Finally, the Furry PAs at their desks. You can see how hard they work. I don’t know what I’d do without them!

 

 

 

 

 

Into the Snowdrop woods

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

Sometimes, life knocks you around so much that you wonder if you’ll ever feel joy again. And, I have to admit, this is how I’ve been feeling a lot lately – certainly not helped by the Winter gloom and cold. But, this morning, driving over the Marlborough Downs in the sunshine with the radio on and the girls laughing in the car, I actually felt the stirrings of happiness. One of the reasons, I’m sure, was that we were on our way to see Snowdrops.

When you live in the country, you gradually learn the special places to visit at different times of year: the farm with the sweetest new-born lambs; the best wood for Bluebells; the prettiest Christmas market. But, even though I’ve grown used to the sight of Snowdrops in the gardens and roadside verges, at this time of year, I’d never found somewhere to see them en masse.

Nothing quite prepares you for what five acres of Snowdrops looks like; the otherwise colourless woodland, lit up by a carpet of dazzling white. From a distance, it looks like snow (no surprise there!). Close up, the nodding heads are green-edged and beautifully intricate. We ooh-ed and ah-ed and got down on our knees to get a better view. And to smell them. I didn’t realise Snowdrops smelt until today. It’s the loveliest scent: soft and sweet and sometimes there and sometimes not.

We walked around for an hour taking it all in. And then walked around some more because the sun had come out again and the snowdrops were now all edged in light. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to be out in the fresh air, looking at something so extraordinary and forgetting, for a while,  about everything but the moment.

 

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

Most great Snowdrop woods are on the sites of former monasteries. The owners of this wood, at Welford Park in Berkshire, think the Snowdrops were planted by Norman monks to use in their Church for the February feast of Candlemas and as a headache cure.

 

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The plant name for the common Snowdrop is Galanthus Nivalis (from the Greek gala, meaning milk, and anthos , meaning flower). But their other old, country names are ‘Candelmas Bells’, ‘dingle-dangle’ and ‘February Fairmaid’.

 

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Snowdrops have naturalised so freely around the country that we like to think of them as a thoroughly British flower. But they were probably introduced from Southern Europe, either by the Romans or, it’s now thought, later, in the 16th Century.

 

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I’ve always wondered why you find Snowdrops so often in graveyards. Apparently, it’s because, in the language of flowers, they symbolise purity.

 

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Traditionally, it’s bad luck to pick Snowdrops and bring them into the house, but I flout country lore and love putting tiny bunches in small vases. Another idea is to dig up a clump, pot it up and surround it with moss.

 

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Snowdrops might look delicate, but they are tough little bulbs and pretty easy to grow. Because they’re woodland plants, they’re happiest in dappled shade and humus rich soil.

 

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Snowdrops hate drying out. So, if you’re planning your own Snowdrop show, make sure that you plant them in ‘the green’. This means you order them now (my favourite supplier is www.clare-bulbs.co.uk) and plant them as soon as you get them. They will arrive in bundles with their leaves still on.  I plant mine 2-3 inches deep in clusters of about three.

 

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, Lifestyle, Countryside, English country, Country house, English Houses, English Home, Gardens, Flowers, Cutting, Gardens, Nature, English, gardens, Roses, Rose garden, Sweet peas, Spring bulbs, Spring gardens, Spring planting, Summer planting, Summer gardens, White, Blooms, Home design, Interior design, Interiors, White interiors, House beautiful, Homes and Gardens, Maine Coons, Cats, Motherhood

To help them naturalise, divide established clumps like these every year, splitting them into smaller sections and replanting them immediately (I am not so good at doing this. But I should if I want a display anything like this!)